1. Hawaii was illegally overthrown by the United States.
What many people don’t know about Hawaii is that it was once ruled by the Hawaiian Monarchy. During Queen Liliuokalani’s reign in 1893, a group of men from Liliuokalani’s cabinet of American, German, and British descent, known as The Committee of Public Safety, executed a military coup to overthrow the Hawaiian Kingdom.
In its aftermath, US President Grover Cleveland was in favor of restoring the monarchy, but his successor, President William McKinley, saw Hawaii as a strategic power for US troops fighting in the Spanish-American War. Hawaii’s annexation followed soon after, and eventually statehood in 1959.
2. The Hawaiian Islands are a chain of 137 islands.
When people think of Hawaii, their minds automatically go to Waikiki (“Is that the capital?” people sometimes painfully ask), or maybe Maui. In Hawaii, there are eight major islands: Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island (also known as Big Island), Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. (Locals jokingly call their favorite vacation destination of Las Vegas the “ninth island”). In total, Hawaii is comprised of 137 islands including the major eight, islets, atolls, and reefs.
3. Hawaii has 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones.
While Hawaii enjoys some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world, its diverse climates may surprise you.
On Hawaii Island alone, you can find all 10 zones: from tropical and continuously wet to hot desert and periglacial ice climates, you see and experience pretty much everything Earth has to offer on one island.
4. The Hawaiian Islands are the most geographically isolated island chain on Earth.
More than 2,000 miles away from any other place, Hawaii is the most isolated island chain on Earth, so it’s no wonder our unique flora, fauna, and frankly, grocery prices, tend to amaze people.
Hawaii’s ecosystem developed in almost total isolation, making it more endemic than even the Galapagos Islands.
5. The Hawaiian alphabet only has only 12 letters.
For non-native speakers and tourists, Hawaiian names can be a challenge. The reason why might be because the Hawaiian alphabet only contains 12 letters (plus an ʿokina and kahakō, which are symbols that change the sound of a word). Because so few consonants make up the Hawaiian language, words like Humuhumunukunukuapuaʿa (Hawaii’s state fish) can be challenging to pronounce, but with some practice, words become easy and fun to say.
6. There are no snakes in Hawaii.
Hawaii has worked hard to keep snakes out of the state in order to protect native birds and other species. Those found smuggling snakes into the state can face three years in jail and fines upwards of $200,000.
7. There are no billboards in Hawaii.
The first of four states to ban billboards (ahead of Alaska, Maine, and Vermont), Hawaii enjoys wide open spaces free from billboards so that our residents can enjoy distraction-free, scenic driving.
8. Gambling is illegal in Hawaii.
If you’re looking to make a trip to a casino during your Hawaiian vacation, you came to the wrong place (try the ninth island, instead!). Hawaii doesn’t have casinos, nor does it allow for gambling onboard a ship, or anyplace gambling activities can take place.
Hawaii doesn’t have the lottery either, so the price to live in paradise won’t be covered by your (unlikely) lottery win.
9. Everyone in Hawaii is a minority.
Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, African American — What do all of these ethnicities have in common? In Hawaii, they are all minorities. In fact, each ethnicity making up Hawaii’s population is a minority, as Hawaii is a giant melting pot of different cultures.
The Native Hawaiian population decreased dramatically after western contact by Captain Cook in 1778 brought influenza, smallpox, and sexually transmitted diseases. Further, in the 1850s, immigrants from Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines began arriving to work in the growing and successful sugar business on sugarcane fields throughout the islands. While sugar production is now a retired practice in the islands (the last plantation shut down on Maui in 2016), many families have rooted themselves here, becoming the diverse population known as Hawaii’s melting pot.
10. All beaches are public in Hawaii.
Much to the joy of residents and tourists alike, all beaches (with the exception of a few government-use beaches) are public access in Hawaii. Residents or businesses who attempt to obstruct public access to beaches can face hefty fines.
11. Oahu has a small population of wallabies living in Kalihi Valley.
A popular urban myth that a small group of wallabies, native to Australia, are living in Hawaii has been proven with several sightings of this elusive marsupial. Said to have escaped from the Honolulu Zoo, a pair of wallabies grew their small population, which now live mostly in Kalihi Valley on Oahu.
12. The southernmost part of the United States is actually on Hawaii Island.
Key West claims the southernmost part of the continental US, but South Point on Hawaii Island, with its green sand beach and giant cliffs spilling into the Pacific, is the southernmost point of the entire United States.
13. Hawaii is the only US state that grows coffee.
The only coffee you can drink that is grown in the United States is from Hawaii. Hawaii Island grows a majority of coffee, with the Kona district growing the bulk of it. Coffee does well in Hawaii’s warm, tropical climate, high elevations, and rich soil. Kona coffee has earned a reputation of being exceptionally aromatic and tasty, making it one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
14. Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time.
When the rest of the US springs ahead or falls behind, adjusting their clocks an hour forward or backward, Hawaii’s clocks stay exactly the same. Hawaii observes its own time zone, Hawaii Standard Time.
15. Hawaii is the only state whose landmass is growing due to volcanic eruptions.
Perhaps one of the best things about Hawaii is that its landmass is not finite: Hawaii continues to grow.
The Hawaiian Islands are formed due to being situated atop a geothermal “hot spot” deep under the ocean’s surface. Hawaii Island is home to Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, which is continuously erupting. The lava that spurts up hits sea level and creates new landmass, meaning there is more Hawaii being made every day.